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Frequently Asked Questions

Just hanging out in the office. Rex Bridge.
Just hanging out in the office. Rex Bridge. Randy Core, Alaska DOT&PF


QuestionWhat is functional classification?

AnswerFunctional classification is the "process by which streets and highways are grouped into classes, or systems, according to the character of service they are intended to provide." In basic terms, a road can be functionally classified as:

  • Arterial: These roads provide mobility so traffic can move from one place to another quickly and safely. Arterials typically are roadways with high traffic volumes and are frequently the route of choice for intercity buses and trucks.
  • Collector: These roads link arterials and local roads and perform some duties of each.
  • Local: These roads provide access to homes, businesses, and other property.


QuestionWhat is the federal requirements for classifying roads?

AnswerThe Federal Highway Administration requires states to classify all public roads per 23 CFR, Part 470 – Highway Systems. They also have a manual that provides guidance on the concepts, criteria and procedures for states to follow. See Highway Functional Classification –Concepts, Criteria and Procedures.


QuestionWhat are the implications of a road’s functional classification?

AnswerCircumstances in which a road's functional classification is taken into account include:

  • Roadway Design, Construction, and Level of Maintenance
  • Access Management
  • Project Ranking, Scoring, and Funding; for detailed information about the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and funding, please visit ADOT&PF's STIP website
  • Emergency Relief Funding Sources
  • Modeling Air Quality Conformity
  • Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) Reporting
  • Bridge Statistical Reporting
  • Federal Management Information System Reporting


Question How does functional classification affect project funding?

AnswerIn Alaska, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funds can be used on any public roadway (regardless of the road's functional classification). Road ownership and the state assigned federal functional classification determine which roadways are eligible for the following programs:

  • FHWA's Emergency Relief Program
  • FHWA's Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) Program
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance

The state assigned federal functional classification is one of many factors that are considered when evaluating projects for Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funding. For more information about the STIP and funding, please visit ADOT&PF's STIP website


QuestionWhat is the definition of a "public road"?

AnswerA "public road" is any road under the jurisdiction of and maintained by a public authority and "open to public travel." This could range from a logging road to a multi-lane freeway. "Open to public travel" means that the road is available, except during scheduled periods (including seasonal closures), extreme weather, or emergency conditions; passable by standard passenger cars; and open to the general public for use without restrictive gates, prohibitive signs, or regulation other than restrictions based on size, weight, or class of registration.


QuestionIs the ADOT&PF or local agency assigned functional classification used as the basis for determining design standards?

AnswerThe functional classification establishes the engineering standards for design.  An inappropriate functional classification can result in roadways built to standards not required by the actual service of the facility.